Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Planes, Trains and Automobiles

What an end and start from one year to another! It seems to have been some time since I last wrote anything. One reason was writer’s fatigue, combined with a dash of blockage and wrapped up in a classical Bavarian diagnosis of the dreaded Nullbock-a-rissmuss disease. For those unacquainted with the dialect of the southern Germans, it means, Cant-be-arsed.

But now I return from scribblers’ paralysis to plague your brain cells with wonders of witless words, guaranteed to shift all that undigested Xmas puddings that are still putrefying in your lower gut. Hopefully you all had a wonderful festive season, drowning your sorrows with credit card subsidised alcohol, I had no such luck. Will 2008 be a better year? Better than what? I suppose you could think of your worst year of your life ever, and then say, ‘Well, I do hope that despite the forthcoming divorce, the house repossession, the courts appearance for tax evasion and the ever increasing unlikeness that the national health service will supply me with a liver transplant within the next 300 days; 2008 will surely be better than 1967 - as that was the year I ran over my pet rat with my bicycle.’

Look at the mystery picture below. Who is that man and what is his name? That bit is easy, because that is little me! But, where am I? Aah, welcome to the magical mystery tour. From the mental wasters of Northern Wales to the Desert wastes of Namibia, Southern Africa, I have been on adventures galore and even saw some pussies. Lions, that is, and best of all – I got pictures of places where even flies don’t bother going on holiday to.

To get there and back, I had to use planes, trains and automobiles. Just like the hilarious classic of that name, with Steve Martin and John Candy, my trip was plagued with misadventures and the occasional NBF. Just like in the movie, I attract New Best Friends (NBF) like starving Dafurian children attract flies to their dripping nostrils in every footage we see coming out of the place. (Jeez, let’s kick start the year with some serious anti-pc). I can’t help it! Every boring, lonesome loser homes on to me like I’m the best thing since the Salvation Army gave out tokens for the off-licence instead of pisshead’s soup. You know the type. As soon as you mistakenly make eye contact they pounce and inundate you with questions and have body language reminiscent to Michael Jackson watching a Johnson’s Baby Oil advert.

Another thing that is almost as annoying as having a NBF, is to suffer from LSQ syndrome. I have all my life and it is incurable. Long Short Queue syndrome afflicts the tiny percent of the population who will sweat buckets scanning and struggling through masses of people (like at Heathrow Airport) looking for the shortest queue to check-in , grin triumphantly around at having found it, and one hour later go into cardiac arrest as you realise your flight has been called and the queue you are standing in is being served by the winner of this years Rip Wan Winkle award for sleeping on the job whilst pretending to look busy. This is whilst your NBF behind you is trying to impress you with his knowledge of Wales by explaining that he was stationed once, in the early ‘70s, in Portmadog with the navy. This is highly unlikely as the place is barely big enough for a train station and the only navy I have seen in the place was on the side of a bottle of rum in the pub.

Well, actually, the bloke behind me in the queue at Munich airport on the 22nd December was actually a rather witty individual. (The really bad NBF comes later.) An American, married to an Italian, flying to Milan for Xmas and flight delayed. Me? My flight back to London, after visiting the kids, had been cancelled. The Krauts pushed the blame onto the Tommies. ‘Zee having zee bad fock in Hit-row’, said the nice blonde, blue eyed supreme being, who reminded me of an Ayron poster pin-up for the Deutsche version of Brokeback Mountain , at Lufthansa passenger service desk. This was after almost two hours of queuing. Of course, what he meant was, ‘They have bad fog in Heathrow’, which could be, but what the hell has that to do with you bastards only operating one service desk? I kid you not, the efficient Germans are no more. By the time I was told to catch a ride (if I am lucky) with British Airways, the amount of people wanting to be serviced had grown to a weary line at least 60 metres long.

Things can only get worse. They did! Starving and dying of thirst, I was eventually tossed like the old rag that I am, on to some British Airways flight, that having been delayed more times than a Zimbabwean economic revival, had a pilot dead-bent on a suicide mission and attempted to land a plane crammed with petrified passengers on a runway covered in a mantle of fog thick enough to spread on a BA dried out bread bun. Anticipating this I cleverly emptied my innards prior to landing, thus, should the worse come to worse, the plane crashes, I wouldn’t be fried in my own shit encrusted pants.

Now safely landed, it should have been much ado about nothing until I realised I had no baggage. Well I did but that had disappeared, which, to put it mildly, was a bit of a pisser. Since I was flying the next day to Africa, this was a tad inconvenient, not to mention downright serious bad news! For the one and only time in my life I had separated my body from my file-o-fax. In it was every access code for everything. Nice one! Also my beloved Swiss Army knife. Any man knows, you don’t go anywhere without one of them. If you neglect to take one, sure enough, a horse will turn-up with a pebble stuck in its hoof and you are left embarrassingly explaining to its frantic rider, that as a former Boy Scout, you have failed miserably due to heavy fog.

There was also another small problem. The camera was also inside the missing suitcase, complete with the brand new 2GB chip. Just bought for this trip! Actually, this came as a blessing in disguise because it meant being forced to buy another one, and that’s when I did a clever thing. After checking out the various mini-digi toys at the Vat free shop in the departure lounge and concluding a modern 35mm beast was - a) too bulky and b) taking the piss on the price, a Sony Cyber shot was purchased. The latest. It is unquestionably the stupidest designed camera on the market. There are buttons in the way of thumbs and knobs that twirl around just by breathing on them. BUT it has one amazing advantage. This little mini SLR looker, has the most genius of Carl Zeiss lens, that zooms an incredible 38-380mm! Okay, the f stops aren’t exactly very clever, but considering its size and speed of reload, it is a babe!

With a 2GB card and set to 5 mill pixs plus, it is perfect for the very serious amateur.

So, I will tell you more of my adventures over the next few days, but to kick start the whole malarkey off, here is a 3 minute YouTube of the first part. I tried to dub in some Namibian Folk Music, but sadly the PC wasn’t having it.

Till Part Two. Stay tuned, there are more great pictures to come, including the amazing sand dunes of the SouSouVlei and more hilarious observations…


Robb WJ Ellis (aka Mandebvhu) said...

Howzit! Now I know where you disappeared to... but, more amazingly, having travelled to the land of 24/7 sun, you came back?

Seriously - some good stuff here.

Looking forward to the next instalment (is it a double 'l'?)...

Take care.


Anonymous said...

U lucky devil - what a trip - and thanks for sharing the videos - some really brilliant pics & thoroughly enjoyed the music!!!
Can't wait for the rest - so shake a leg!!!